What’s Wrong with Dieting?
I once heard a sadly accurate definition of “Diet.” A diet is a period of starvation preceding a gain of 10 pounds.
Though these articles really aren’t concerned with weight loss, the illustration provided by this definition is simply too good not to use to make today’s point. If we are going to stick with our resolutions and spiritual commitments, we need to learn to Establish behaviors not byproducts. Keep reading to find out why.
Week 3: How’s it going?
Another week of sticking with those resolutions. Great job! Keep it up!
Didn’t do so hot? Don’t fret. Let’s attack those plans of yours with a new principle for making your resolutions stick. But first, did you Rewrite your motivations? I hope so. That first step is a tough one. But don’t skip it. I know I want to. I still have motivations to rewrite. However, this is an important step in the commitment process. If you need to go back and read about it again, click here.
Establish Behaviors not Byproducts
So, why was that definition of “diets” so accurate? It is not because diets don’t work. In fact, most diets do work. Most diets, if people follow them faithfully, cause people to lose weight. Then why the definition?
Because most dieters merely established the byproducts as their goals and not the behaviors. Here’s how it works. Healthy weight loss is a byproduct of making healthy choices: healthy eating and healthy exercise. However, what do most people resolve?
Resolved: I’m going to lose 25 lbs in 2017.”
They work hard. They count calories, cut carbs, hit the gym. They may join a group. They may take drastic measures. And the pounds come off. Then they reach their goal. They accomplished their resolution. They kept their commitment.
Return to old behaviors. After all, they didn’t establish the behaviors as part of their goal, just the byproducts. Just as weight loss is a byproduct of new healthy behaviors, weight gain is a byproduct of old unhealthy behaviors.
What is the solution? Don’t resolve to lose 25 pounds. Resolve to make healthy eating and exercise choices.
Establish the behaviors, not merely the byproducts.
And this will help me spiritually?
In fact, I’m not really concerned about your weight loss. Jesus didn’t die in order to give you better blood pressure and a great BMI. He died to free you from sin.
The principle we need to learn is that most of the time we simply aren’t in charge of the results or byproducts. We, by God’s grace, are in charge of the behaviors. To my knowledge, God never actually commands you to go to heaven? He does, however, command you to be careful how you walk (Ephesians 4:1, et al). He commands you to work on the behaviors. He will be in charge of the byproducts.
Let’s see if we can apply this principle to some of our spiritual resolutions.
Don’t resolve to get closer to God. That is a byproduct of spiritual choices and behaviors. Instead, resolve to spend 30 minutes in Bible study, prayer, and scriptural meditation three times per week. Or resolve to start every morning with five minutes of prayer before doing anything else.
Don’t resolve to have better relationships with other Christians. That is a byproduct of relational choices and behaviors. Instead, resolve to have another Christian or family in your home twice per month. Or resolve to join a small group of Christians who agree to meet together on a regular basis.
Don’t resolve to have a better marriage. That is a byproduct of healthy behaviors. Instead, resolve to keep a calm face, calm voice, calm body when speaking to your spouse, even when you disagree. Or resolve to have 30 minutes of uninterrupted together time every day. Or resolve to have a date twice per month.
Don’t resolve to baptize 10 people. That is a byproduct of evangelistic choices. Instead, resolve to invite one person per week to hear the gospel. Or resolve to verbally and openly offer to pray for someone every day.
Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying byproducts don’t matter or to forget about them. In fact, in a later principle we’ll learn how remembering the byproducts is a big help. But for now, Establish behaviors not byproducts.
Principle #2: Establish Behaviors not Byproducts
Come back next week for Principle #3: Strategize Around Your Setbacks.
Photo adapted from Graceway Media